More women in government, businesses and as heads of families have brought about positive changes in society. (GA Photo/M. Defrizal)

Tough, Resourceful, Visionary: Globe Asia's '99 Most Inspiring Women in Indonesia'


MARCH 27, 2019

Jakarta – GlobeAsia's '99 Most Inspiring Women in Indonesia' special premium edition issue, with a list that includes the famously tough Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti, was launched at The Sultan Hotel in Jakarta on Wednesday (27/03).

The special issue is the quarterly magazine's first edition for the year, and highlighted the extraordinary contributions of 99 highly inspiring women leaders in Indonesia.

"We changed the headline from 'influential' to 'inspiring,' which meant we were able to highlight the achievements of a broader range of Indonesian women. From social activists, artists, chief executives, company founders, businesswomen, entertainers and other women who have made a significant impact in Indonesian society over the last year," GlobeAsia director and BeritaSatu Media Holdings chief operating officer Anthony Wonsono said in his opening remarks at the launch.

According to studies by Harvard University and McKinsey, increasing participation of women in governments, businesses and throughout society has resulted in extraordinary results.

"In business, more women in your boards will allow you to achieve higher profits, drive greater revenues and increase your sales; and in government, it allows for more holistic development in our government, greater national-scale development that's often left untouched or looked over but critical for Indonesia's future," Anthony said.

More Roles for Women

Minister Susi was included in the list in the government and political category. She said at the launch that her experience in government has only strengthened the case for women to be given more roles in society.

"I think women are more creative than men. The world has many more tunes and a better rhythm when a lady is in the lead," Susi said. 

The minister's own relentless effort to combat illegal fishing in the past five years—which has inspired thousands of "Tenggelamkan Saja" ("Just drown them") memes based on a quote from the minister's defiant response when asked how she was going to stop illegal foreign fishing trawlers from entering Indonesian waters—has helped Indonesia claim the top spot among the world's tuna exporters. 

"To be a woman is actually a big advantage, a big boon for us… there are occasions when being a woman gives you advantage over men, especially in negotiation and arguments," the minister said. "Use it as an advantage, but don't use it to take advantage."

Better Support System

Veronica Utami, Google Indonesia's marketing director, said in a panel discussion after the minister's speech that today it is easier for some women to pursue their dreams. 

"More and more, husbands are sharing the burden of raising and organizing the family and the home," Veronica said. 

"Technology has also enabled us to do our work remotely and, living in Asia, we are lucky to have an extensive support system around us. There are always parents or in-laws who are ready to help when we need it," she said. 

Breaking the Ceiling

For Sakdiyah Ma'ruf, a woman comic who comes from an Arab-Indonesian family, a woman's role in the workplace is still about breaking the ceiling for those who come after her. 

In the stand up comedy scene, which is still dominated by men, "I always ask myself what my mission is whenever I'm on stage. Our challenge as women is to keep bringing messages that will benefit us," Sakdiyah said. 

"Stand up comedy is basically still a big boys' club, a woman who lets herself be carried away will get rolled over very easily. But if she fashions her own perspective and keeps delivering her message, she will grow and soon take the lead," Sakdiyah said.  

Next Gen

For another woman on the list, Resa Boenard, her activism has always been about inspiring women of the next generation. Resa returned to her home in Bantar Gebang, Southeast Asia’s largest uncovered landfill just outside Jakarta, to help children living in the poor and disease-ridden area pursue their dreams. "I always tell the children that life is never about where we are raised," she said.